Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Awhile ago, I started noticing that when someone wins or loses in a competition of any kind, it doesn't necessarily have the effect on their feelings that one would expect. I was also wondering about what the best attitude to compete with is, because it obviously makes a big difference what your perspective is.

There's a verse in the Bible in which Jesus asks what it would profit a man to gain the whole world, but to lose his soul (Mark 8:36). There are a lot of verses in the Bible that make it sound like "winning" in the world's eyes, having worldly success, and "winning" in God's eyes, becoming one of those people to whom He will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant," (Matthew 25:21) are two very different things (Matthew 20:26, 20:16, etc.).

Several years ago, when I was in my most angst-ridden teenaged year, I did a drawing in which I wrote in the margins something to the effect of: What does it profit to lose the world and gain your soul? This wasn't a rebellious query; I was struggling with questions about what it meant to be a believer. Did one have to lose the world in order to keep one's soul? Did I have to be miserable in this life in order to go to heaven in the next?

Now, I see it a little bit differently. Yes, in a way I think I was right. There is a lot of worldly sacrifice involved in the Christian life, and we as Christians do indeed have to "lose the world," if by that we mean "surrender ourselves and our world to the greater cause of God and His glory," but I don't think that the Christian life need continually be one of worldly loss, lack, and misery. Matthew 6:33 says that if we "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness" then we will have the worldly things that we need. Jesus said that He came so that we might have abundant life, and I think that is something we can have here as well as in heaven.

I guess a lot of our happiness is based on our attitudes and what we're choosing to focus on. Waiting for circumstances to change before we can be happy doesn't work, because then we're basing our happiness on circumstances (such as winning a competition, getting a good grade, getting a boyfriend or girlfriend). If we base our expectations on our circumstances, we'll always be disappointed. Circumstances change, aren't necessarily what we're hoping for, and even if they're great, don't give us the stability and joy that we really want. Only God can do that. Only God is a rock to stand on; God is the only thing we can stand on that comes with a true guarantee that it will not fail.

In other words, I don't necessarily need to give up everything, and I don't need to give up all hope of getting certain things that I want, but I need to be willing to give up everything but God. I need to seek Him before all else. I'm still trying to figure out what that means.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


We all have a lot of questions that begin in "why." Some of them are big: Why did this happen to me? Why didn't I get what I was expecting? Why do I believe in God? Why do I exist? Some of them smaller: Why don't I have a facebook? More importantly to me, why does society at large think I should I get one, and why should that matter to me? And, at the moment, why am I blogging?

Sometimes, we try to answer these questions. People come up with explanations for the big questions involving things like free will, providence, and the fall of mankind. They give rationalizations for their decisions: I don't have a facebook because I don't like socializing on the internet (preferred methods: face to face, or not at all. e-mail and phone, when necessary), because I'm not looking for ways to waste time when I could be practicing or studying. And yet, I think everyone sometimes does things for which they have no good explanation. For instance, this blog. Is it because we've had a lot of snow days, so I've had way too much time to think? Or is this something I've been thinking about doing for a long time, feeling as if God was pushing me towards it, but I was reluctant because I couldn't think of a reason why?

For me, a lot of the big questions also have no concrete, compact, neat, rational, simple answer. Providence as an explanation for everything? Free will and the fall of mankind as an explanation for everything bad that happens, but the intervention of God as what makes those things to have good consequences for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose? Some strange combination of the will of men, the will of the devil and the will of God that our brains are far too puny to understand? I don't have an answer. My answer is: God is good. In the face of everything I don't understand, that's all I have to say that I know is true.

It's not that I don't want an explanation for the things that happen. It's just that--whatever it is that God is asking of other people--I think He is asking me, primarily, to trust Him more than I do, to trust Him with a faith that is simple and humble and knows nothing but His goodness. He's not asking me to do that because it's easy for me, but because it's hard. I'm the kind of person who wants to know everything and understand everything, to always know what is going on and what to expect. I don't. God wants to give me peace anyway, and the only way to find it is by trusting Him and giving everything up to Him and being content with the knowledge He gives me.

And that's why I'm blogging. Because I've thought for a long time that God wants me to speak up on the internet, but I've never figured out why or what about. I've finally decided to just jump in and hope that He will somehow use me, even if I don't understand it.